Last year, I wrote a post about how writers should start tracking their cycles to enhance their empathy and productivity. I know, how taboo of me. JK, I love talking about taboo things like religion, politics, mental health, and periods.
Now, I’m ready to do a deep dive into what this may look like for writers regardless of gender. We’re going to talk about how learning about your health can help you craft a more realistic writer’s lifestyle. Or really, any lifestyle, but we’ll focus on writers.
What Are Monthly Cycles?
As I mentioned in my post, every living thing runs on some kind of cycle. We’re healing or dying, growing or decaying. Most of us understand that people with vaginas run on monthly menstruation cycles. Generally, people with uteruses will menstruate once a month for a few days, but almost all of us know that every person is different. The rest of the month can be a roller coaster as well, thanks to hormones.
Men, or people who don’t have uteruses, can also have cycles but they work differently. Their hormones can fluctuate throughout the month as well and may experience irritable male syndrome. Their hormones can fluctuate hourly, daily, and seasonally. Thus, everyone could benefit from tracking their cycles to see what their bodies are trying to tell them.
Claire Baker is my go-to expert on periods because she regularly gives insight and resources on how to track periods for productivity. I’d recommend checking out her website and freebies because most of what I understand comes from her and I want to give her credit.
What Should We Track?
There are so many things that our cycles or emotions can tell us. Our emotions, much like our nervous system, can let us know how we’re actually doing. And once you track certain actions, emotions, or moods, you can start seeing patterns in how you’re currently functioning.
If you get periods, the first day of your cycle is the first day you bleed or menstruate. If you don’t get periods, maybe consider the first day of the month as day one. You can use period tracking apps or Baker’s cycle charts to record how your day went. Here’s a few things I track:
- Energy levels (am I alert or sleepy?)
- Emotions (am I happy or anxious?)
- Moods (am I feeling easily frustrated or productive?)
- Physical sensations (am I experiencing migraines, cramps, or other forms of discomfort?)
As you create your own tracking system, give yourself an honest snapshot of the day, and track what you want to track. What do you want to learn about yourself? If you’re reading this post because you want to track your productivity levels, then give yourself a few words to describe how the day went. An example would be words like productive, overwhelmed, too tired, did other things instead, energetic, etc.
How Can Tracking Benefit Our Writing Goals?
When you track these symptoms, you can start to see patterns and then plan activities and goals around these patterns. For example, I was able to see an eerie pattern after tracking my cycle for a few months. After the month was over, I circled instances such as “migraine” so I could see how many times it showed up during the month. After tracking my cycles for a quarter, I learned that halfway through my cycle, I’d experience 2–3 migraines about the same time every month. Like clockwork.
Since I work full-time, I now know that I should get more rest those days, maybe work from home, and cancel extrovert plans. I don’t beat myself up if I don’t get anything done on those days because I know that my body and mind are not up for writing or editing during a migraine.
It’s worth seeing which times during the month you need to rest or take advantage of all that energy. Maybe instead of writing every day, you can promise to write on the days you are your most creative and energetic.
For those of you with daily fluctuating hormones, you could track how you feel when you work in the morning versus the evening. When do you feel you’re most creative? Shouldn’t you move your top priorities to those times of the day, rather than the societal norm?
Get to Know You & What Works for You
Our bodies and minds are wonderful creations. It astounds me how much I’ve changed and improved since I have made a conscious effort to listen to what my body is trying to tell me.
We are not robots. We can’t function at 100% productivity every single day. And as my therapist reminds me, if we push ourselves beyond our capacities, our bodies will shut down for us. And my hope for you is that you’ll be able to anticipate your highs and lows so you don’t need to suffer unnecessarily.
Be the master of your own schedule by learning what works for you and only you. You can boost your own confidence by knowing yourself and working with yourself rather than demanding too much.
Do you track your cycles? What experiences did you have? Share your thoughts on menstruation, cycles, hormones, or productivity in the comments!
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